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Brady Skjei can play role of tough guy for Rangers when needed

Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei tackles Flames defenseman Rasmus

Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei tackles Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson to the ice during the third period of a game at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Brady Skjei doesn’t consider himself any sort of tough guy, but sometimes a man has to do what a man has to do, and when the defenseman jumped the Calgary Flames’ Rasmus Andersson late in the third period of Sunday’s 4-1 loss, Skjei was just doing what he felt he needed to do.

“I thought the guy got a little high [with a bodycheck] on ‘Zucc’ (Mats Zuccarello),’’ Skjei said. “And the pass that I gave kind of put Zucc in a tough position. So when that happens, you’ve got to answer the bell. Obviously, he didn’t want to fight, so we just took each other to the ground and that was that.’’

As it turned out, Skjei’s defense partner that night, Neal Pionk, went after Andersson, too, which left Calgary’s Garnet Hathaway in on a breakaway. He scored his second goal of the night to close the scoresheet with 1:53 remaining. Skjei didn’t realize a goal was scored on the play, and couldn’t understand why the whistle hadn’t been blown to stop play.

“I think everyone in the rink thought that it was going to get blown down,’’ Skjei said.

Rangers coach David Quinn didn’t like the timing of Skjei’s outburst, but didn’t mind the action itself.

“Ideally, you don’t want it to happen in that moment, but I’ll never criticize a guy for standing up for a teammate,’’ Quinn said. “I mean, that’s something you have to do at this level.’’

Ice chips

F Ryan Spooner was back in the lineup after being scratched Sunday. Spooner took the place of Vinni Lettieri at right wing on the fourth line, skating with Cody McLeod and Vlad Namestniko . . . D Freddie Claesson, who has an upper body injury that Quinn said would keep him out 2-3 weeks, was placed on injured reserve. No move was made to replace him on the 23-man roster, so for now there are 22 active players … D Anthony DeAngelo was scratched for the fifth straight game. “The coaches are deciding the lineup… so I have no say.” he said. “I’m just waiting for my chance and whenever I get it, I’ll be ready to go.’’

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